The 2017 Range Rover Evoque Convertible, one of Land Rover’s most creative and user-friendly undertakings, is turning heads across the motoring industry — a full six years after its debut.

The iconic Land Rover brand has included the Evoque since 2011, when the automaker introduced the car as a more affordable alternative for drivers seeking a high-end Range Rover experience. It was, and still is, based on the LRX concept car that debuted a few years earlier at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan.

That’s not to say the Evoque is a byproduct of cut corners — not at all. The car’s been well received since entering production, and is often revered as a definitive Range Rover experience in a smaller package. The vehicle has received high praise from the automotive press for tackling many features, such as off-road capability and drivability, with great comparability to the larger Range Rovers. It’s quite a sprite, performance-minded automobile with quite the reputation, and 2017 is a big year for the car’s resume.

Avante-garde, original, and perhaps a bit outlandish statements are all the rage in automobile design right now. The Evoque breaks down a few barriers and revolutionizes what we think luxury crossover SUVs are supposed to be like.

Let’s take a look at this year’s car, and what’s in store for the Evoque driver.

STYLING

The styling is very clean, and invokes many of the trademark Land Rover motifs. Despite being smaller and more compact, and even a bit sportier than an SUV usually is, the Evoque looks like a card-carrying member of the Range Rover fleet. Drivers who are appreciative of the brand’s enduring design motifs will be happy with the clean-cut setup of the Evoque.

The car doesn’t sacrifice much in the way of looks by ditching the hardtop. It’s every bit as classy, and that’s due largely in part to Rover’s diverse color offerings. The fabric sits between the windshield and the liftgate, which keeps the model’s fixed-roof profile intact.

Raising and lowering the roof only takes 13 seconds (18 if the windows still have to roll down), the touch of a button, and a speed somewhere South of 29 mph. When lowered, the top will be comfortably tucked away behind the rear seats.

Just about everything resulting from the Evoque’s time in the drawing room carry over from the standard model. There are pyrotechnic roll bars and other safety features as add-ons (behind the rear seats), and structural stiffeners, all of which combine to make the drop-top every bit as safe and springy as the standard model, too.

If you’re a fan of the ragtop, you gain a lot with the Evoque, and you lose very little.

PERFORMANCE

While you lose very little, there is some loss to be considered. If one thing suffers during the transition from hardtop to soft-top, it’s the cargo area. It’s been almost eliminated entirely.

The roll bar, while well hidden, still eats up a bit of space otherwise dedicated to storage. The total size of the boot is 9 square feet, which is not enough space for anything more than a modest trip to the grocery store.

The Evoque has an abbreviated liftgate that opens somewhat awkwardly, forcing the driver to load and unload items at arms-length. It’s basically the model’s only soft spot as compared to its larger cousins, but for drivers with a lot to haul around, it’s a soft spot worth considering.

So, the car might come up slightly short in the “utility” department, thanks to its small trunk. The “sports” part of the bargain is held up, however there are a few kinks in the Evoque’s armor there, too.

There’s a tiny bit of turbo lag, but it’s nothing that could not be considered par for the course. The car also weighs about 400 lbs more than some other Evoques, and it suffers a bit in the acceleration department as a result. It will go 0-60 mph in 8.1 seconds, which is 1.2 seconds slower than the four-door hardtop, but is still perfectly suitable for a car in its class.

The Evoque has 20/28 mpg fuel economy, which is about 1 mpg short of the hardtop. That’s to be expected thanks to the weight gain the ragtop offers, but it might upset some purists come topoff time.

The car also has decent ground clearance, which pairs with many of the car’s tried-and-true off-roading amenities to provide a very enjoyable experience on and off the asphalt. While the car sits high, it does not feel disconnected from the road at all. Quite the opposite, in fact, it’s very tactile.

The brakes are considerably useful. They feel totally capable of bringing the heavier Evoque droptop to a total halt in reasonable time, even at highway speeds. A 70-0 mph stopping figure of just 176 feet puts the car in league with the hardtop.

AMENITIES

Providing tunes and audio for the Evoque are a full set of Meridian speakers. They provide crystal clear audio, even at highway speeds or downtown where ambient sound is high. The wind comes in at about 70 decibels at 70 mph, so these speakers will come in handy.

The legroom in the back is the same as in the hardtop, but the lack of a full complement of doors makes the droptop a little more difficult to climb into. Thankfully, the interior is well done, and is comprised of a combination of padded and stitched leather that would please anyone. It’s the same sort of richness and attention to detail you can expect all across the Range Rover fleet.

To help tame the Meridian speakers (660 watts) and the road alike, the Evoque plays host to a newly made infotainment system from JLR that provides a 10.2-inch touchscreen interface. Depending on the package you opt for, you can pair that with a Driver Assistance package, which includes HUD, self-levelling headlamps, cruise control, automatic braking. You can also go for park assistance, cameras for parking, and road-sign recognition.

FINAL THOUGHTS

It will be a while before we know whether or not the droptop Evoque was a hit or a miss. While it’s packed to the brim with classic Rover features, it’s also got a few soft spots that purists may not be able to make peace with.